Friends remember victims of deadly helicopter crash

6:43 PM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - New information is surfacing about the victims of Monday's deadly helicopter crash in Garfield County. Three people died: the pilot Doug Sheffer - an employee at Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs - Larry Shaffer, and Christopher Gaskill from Aurora.

While the National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash, some people who knew the victims are sharing stories about the men who were killed.

"I've always had a childhood fascination with helicopters," Sheffer's friend Wayne Brenengen said. "I shared with him some of my enthusiasm about that. He said that he always shared that same kind of enthusiasm, just never outgrew it. [He] found a way to take advantage of it on a daily basis".

Sheffer loved what he did. He did it every day for 22 years. He soared over the skies of Garfield County and beyond, serving as a pilot-for-hire for anyone who needed him.

"I just marveled at his skill and I felt very safe with him piloting," Brenengen said.
Brenengen needed Sheffer's assistance several times and each time the two became better friends.

"Doug shared with me a funny story one time to help me understand how expensive helicopters are," Brenengen recalled. "He said 'think of it this way: every time that helicopter blade goes around somebody pays a dollar.'"

Because of that, Sheffer was able to build a successful business, DBS Helicopters based out of Rifle.

Over the years he collected many clients, including Holy Cross Energy out of Glenwood Springs. On a work-flight Monday, deputies say the blades of Sheffer's helicopter got twisted in some pole wiring forcing his chopper to come crashing down, killing all three onboard.

"I had a feeling before I even heard the name," Brenengen said. "I mentioned to my wife that I had this sad feeling that it was... that it was Doug."
Sadly, says Brenengen, even with Sheffer's experience no one can ever prepare for freak accidents. All that's left, he says, are memories.

"Everyone says the same thing. He was a terrific guy and he will be sorely missed," Brenengen added.

9NEWS has not been able to gather much information about Gaskill. Holy Cross Energy released a lengthy statement about Larry Shaffer on its website:

Larry Shaffer, a long-time Holy Cross Energy employee was identified as one of the passengers who passed away Monday, January 29th, in the tragic helicopter crash near Silt, Colorado. Larry, a crew foreman and journeyman lineman, worked at Holy Cross Energy for more than 28 years, starting his employment in May of 1985.

As a member of the Operations Department, Larry worked his way up the ranks, ultimately promoted to crew foreman in August, 2007. His experience and dedication spanned a variety of overhead and underground electric distribution projects including new construction and system improvements. His work also involved service, maintenance and responding to outages, 24/7.

Along with the Holy Cross family, Larry was well respected by the members of his crew and best known for his infectious grin, welcoming smile, and positive attitude. "The consummate storyteller, he never knew a stranger. He had an incredible memory - once he met somebody, he knew their family and could recall events, even conversations, years later" remarked co-worker and friend, Todd Jacob. "He was down to earth with a work ethic unmatched by anyone. He was not afraid to get dirty... not afraid of work. It was hard to keep up with him," said crew member and friend, Daniel Nunn. Both men commented that Larry was extremely involved with his children and his grandchildren. "He was always right there with them." Larry was also extremely involved with his church. He will be tremendously missed by all.

Larry is survived by this wife Jo, children Dane, Cole and Stefanie, and two grandchildren (Dane's children) Hannah and Blake.

Holy Cross, its employees and Board of Directors ask the community to keep Larry's family in their thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

A fund, to support his family, has been established in Larry's name at Alpine Bank.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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